Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why printing money won't work

Peter Schiff yet again has an excellent, easy to understand piece on why the present rush to print money won't work.
He underlines the point that it is only savings that allow " credit" to work, and the reason the music has stopped is that the savings no longer exist.
Quite rightly, he says we must get back to making -or growing -things.
Otherwise, there will be a piece of paper on our plates instead of a steak.
Just like Zimbabwe.
I've put a link to Takis Mag - it's become essential reading. Perhaps not every day, but certainly 2 or 3 times a week.
Fraser Nelson has a great piece on Coffee House today. Read the NoW address to Congress.


I've just been watching the film with Greg Peck and Virginia Mayo, and rattling good stuff it is too.
But what struck me more than anything, and it was a theme that ran through the books as well, was how much his men adored him and were prepared to follow him anywhere. They trusted his judgement and they knew he would lead them to victory - or at least damn close to it. As a result, they were prepared to give that bit extra of effort required to make it happen.
And I couldn't help contrast that leadership ( albeit fictional) with our present so-called leaders. They aren't leading us - they are driving and herding us like sheep, and mostly over a cliff.
They don't even elicit loyalty amongst their own.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Keep hoping..

I was cheered to hear of someone who received a call from their house agent, saying that a previous viewer wanted to do a second viewing.

You might think this is commonplace - but nowadays less than 1 in 40 viewings appear to be getting a second look. Everyone is still waiting for that moment when collectively they all think - NOW is the time to buy.

That said, 1 in 3 second viewings are turning into a sale, which means that on average you need 120 viewings to make a sale. I can't help but feel that quite a few people will be in their graves with anguish and stress before that point comes.

And what, whilst we are at it, are the billions of toxic assets at RBS and LLoyds?
As major shareholders, I think we should be told...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chris Dillow has a lovely piece today about Alex Curran cutting back in these recessionary times. In her case, of course, it makes no sense as I'm sure Liverpool haven't cut back on Steven Gerrard's wage packet.
But somehow we all feel better for making an effort, and I'm assume she does too. I'm not sure it makes a lot of difference - many years ago, when Onassis was facing a real crisis, in so far as his ships were being laid up at a great rate as the oil companies were shunning him, he was asked why he didn't cut back on his personal spending.
" When the problem is $300 million, what difference does $300,000 make?"
Of course, not long after that the Suez Canal was shut, and the only person with ships available was Onassis for the extra voyage round South Africa. It's said he make enough to pay all his debts from the first set of contracts he signed the following week.
Now you might think that Livanos would be upset that he hadn't cashed in as he had long term boring contracts with the oil companies. Not a bit of it. He promptly revoked all contracts and did the same with his ships.
But I digress. My point is - unless outgoings are in excess of in-comings - saving a bit makes no real sense. If you were happy with your rate of saving before, what's the reason for changing now? And if you have a mortgage, you will be paying less so there's a bit more to tuck away.
The problem comes because quite large numbers of people are significantly worse off ( not Fred the Shred, obviously) notably those who have squirreled cash away and have seen their income drop by about 75% on average. They are the ones who will be cutting back, and they are the very ones who have done absolutely nothing to deserve a cut.
So in the spirit of these times, and in order to help the economy, I have been on a spending spree.
I have bought sugar, tea and milk for the office.
Oh, and some chocolate biscuits.

50.01% OFF!

Waterstone's are currently selling a book on their online store called
by a chap called Alan Graham.
Now Mr. Fact, being a pedantic sort of chap, was rather taken with the "40% off" sticker - until he checked the actual price of £49.99
The money-off price being quoted was £24.99 -" £25.00 OFF" as the blurb added for good measure.
I can only assume that whoever was writing the stuff hadn't looked at the book.
40% off would give a price of £29.99 ( or thereby) NOT £24.99.
£25 off gives you a price of £24.99 right enough - but sadly a discount of 50.01% ( or thereby.)
And it would have looked so much better as " MORE than 50% OFF!"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Clever? No, properly educated.

I can't help but think the commentator's and others referring to Gail Trimble from Corpus Christi as very " clever" are entirely wrong.
Yes, I'm sure she is clever, but quizzes are not a measure of " cleverness" They are a measure of what you have remembered and how wide your interests, how widely you have read and so on.
Perhaps, in this uneducated age, simply knowing something is clever.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another mistake

A thoughtful post about 100% mortgages from Andrew Lilico.
It's a resonant soundbite for Brown to say he is going to ban them, but the problem is, what happens to all the people who will fall into negative equity over the next year or so? If they can't have 100% + mortages they can't move. As Lilico says it's a recipe for disaster. Still, Brown's complete ignorance of markets, economics and everything else pretty much backs up his inability to deal with any matter, without the law of unintended consequences kicking in.
However, the critical bit is not the loan to value but the income being used to service the debt and interest. The sensible thing to ban would actually be interest only mortgages - yes another downward lurch in prices, but it would return us to sound money ( whatever that is) very quickly.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

So there...

My cousin, Lady Posh, upon whom Patsy in AbFab is based received a phone call from her 40-something second son.
" Just to let you know I got married last week."
" But darling, I thought you already were!"
" I was, but I got divorced and now I've remarried"
" But why didn't you tell me?"
" Well you never told us when you remarried last time."

Levelling 0ut? Er, possibly not.

After the sharp declines on Friday, I may have got it wrong....
But hey, the price of sheep in Romania is up....

Message to the people: Suck it up!

Peter Schiff has a good article over on I always think that's a bit of a misnomer as tacky it is not.
Anyway, his argument is basically the well rehearsed one that previous US administrations forced relatively prudent banks to give incapable borrowers money to buy houses. The borrowers knew they couldn't pay after the teaser rates fell out, but thought they could make a quick turn - which some of them did. But many more remortgaged, simply compounding the problem, and this, broadly is what the US and UK governments are now doing to the whole economy.
Of course, the US also repealed the Glass-Steagall act which had laid the foundations of good banking for nearly 70 years - one of the many mistakes the Clinton administration made in finance and economics.
In the UK, this vandalism has it's counterpart in the splitting of responsibility for bank oversite by Gordon Brown - and we all know how that turned out.
Aaron Murin Heath has a piece highlighted by Iain Dale, which has the right attitude:
" What bothers me though, is that people - politicians and the media mainly - view this recession as something that needs treating. When in fact, rather than being the disease, the financial crisis is the cure.The recession is a market correction of a hugely over-inflated housing market (it will correct, and home values will/may return to a more realistic level of appreciation). The recession is a reaction to borrowing on a massive and wholly unsustainable scale. The recession is the global economy snapping back, as rampant growth surpassed the finite resources we have available.We should stop thinking of the recession as something we can spend our way out of, and just swallow our medicine. Governments, rather than trying to perpetuate a bankrupt economic status quo (see the reduction in V.A.T.), should be using funds to provide basic safety nets for those who fall through the cracks.We should stop lying to ourselves. We need to be honest. We can’t afford to continue spending money we don’t have. Continuous growth is an illusion. Markets will fluctuate. That’s the way it is. We spent more than we had. We borrowed beyond our means. And now we have to suck it up.Sorry. But we need to grow up. And our politicians need to stop bullshitting, and tell us what we don’t want to hear. The recession is the cure. Now let’s stop making matters worse, and deal with it."
Yup, that's it chaps - it will only get better with time and we have to live with it.
Oh, and Brian Boru, this means saving, not borrowing and spending....

Friday, February 20, 2009


The Gurkha Welfare Trust , last year, paid 3500 Nepalee Rupees per month to it's pensioners. That was about £26. The Trust increases its payments to its pensioners in line with inflation, plus 5%, so this year the amount will be about 3700 NR.
But is this £27.03 I hear you cry.
No, it's not.
It's actually nearly £32.50 - or an extra £800,000 this year. The why, of course, is that despite Nepal being amongst the poorest countries* on earth, with more than 50% of the population unemployed, the Great British Pound ( better placed than anyone else... you know the rest) has fallen against the Nepali Rupee.
Read it and weep.
Or alternatively, make a donation here, however small.
* Nepali GDP per capita last year was about £350 cf UK per capita GDP of about £23,500 ( and compare that with the present £33,000 Brown's government has saddled us all with.

How to destroy the middle classes

Chris Dillow on Stumbling and Mumbling has an excellent post today ( not that they aren't always, especially those with pictures of well endowed young ladies with a minimum of clothes).
I did my economics a long time ago, and I had forgotten that borrowing and saving are two halves of the same coin - someone can't borrow unless somebody else has saved.
So the explosion in Government borrowing should not be a shock. We are all saving or paying down debt in one way or the other ( either through thrift or because the banks won't give us any money) so the Government is the only body that can borrow to balance the equation.
PoliticalBetting has a copy of the Mail's headline today, mentioning £2 trillion as what the UK Government now actually owes. This is quite scary as the Yanks, including all their present bailouts, only owe about £7.5trillion - and their economy is considerably more than 4 times bigger than ours. In effect we are over 100% of GDP and the US still only about 75%.
I was speaking with a person who is a real spook recently, and he was saying that he had been astonished at the vitriol that was being poured over this government and Brown in particular. In a narrow sense I suppose the thought was that people tend not to blame in quite the way they have recently.
But on further reflection, and ignoring all the spin ( or lies depending on your point of view), what Brown has done is reduce lots of people to near-penury. Even at the worst point of the last recession, there was quite a large middle-class band that was doing OK. Brown's profligacy, and subsequent taxation policies, has reduced that band considerably, with many falling out of it altogether. As lots of other posts today have pointed out, everything was going along just fine whilst Blair and Brown stuck with the inherited Tory budgets and policies - it was only subsequently that it began to fall apart. I doubt those middle classes will ever vote Labour in the same numbers again. I believe that after the next election the political landscape in the UK may change forever- and I don't mean we will have a permanent Conservative government, but the growth of radical parties across the spectrum.
In my view the critical bit of language/spin was Brown's forever mentioning his "investment" in various areas.
In fact, of course, this was just one more lie. The investment made was largely dead expenditure - whilst real investment was conducted under PFI. It's rather like taking £250 cash out of the hole in the wall, blowing it all on a party, then borrowing £10 to pay the interest on the money spent.
It's Brown wot did it. And because he did it, millions more thought it was OK for them to do it too.

Off to Jail

I forgot to mention when I was with the Sheriff the other day, how immaculately dressed he always is. On this day, he was wearing the most beautiful blue Vicuna coat, and a broad-brimmed green hat which made him look not only distinguished but also rich and powerful, if a touch gay.
I, of course, was in my usual scruff order, topped with an old off-green corduroy coat and brown bunnet*.
As we walked down the street, a court official was walking towards us.
" 'Morning Sheriff. I see you're taking one of your customers to the jail yersel' ".
* bunnet = Scot's slang for a flat hat = bonnet

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Mayor's Son's Wedding and the Gurkha Welfare Trust

It is remiss of me I know but I simply haven't had the time to update the goings on since last week.
I've had two serious engagements - the first at the wedding of the Mayor of Mosna's son and the second a two day conference of the Regional Committees of the Gurkha Welfare Trust. I think I averaged about 4 hours sleep a night for the last week.
I drove to Luton and stayed the night as I needed to check in about 4am on last Friday. I can never sleep properly when I know I have to be up early - I tend to doze.
By the time Alin collected me at Cluj airport and got me to Medias the wedding party was already at the BinderBubi waiting for us. The party was already starting and ended up about 3am. It was in the best Lear traditions of doing everything BEFORE the official do - much more fun.
8am saw us in our wedding clothes and walking into the Mayor's house in Mosna, to have liqueurs and wine pressed into our hands and cakes of all sorts. The photographer was there too, and took enough pictures to fill several albums, along with a solid video which, by the time he finished will run for something like 28 hours. There's a nice touch in that the under-priest, if such a thing exists, gives a blessing to the parents of the groom and their house, and reminds the groom he should thank his mother and father for all they have done for him. We all trooped to the bride's parents house, where the scene was repeated. As part of tradition, the bride is prevented from leaving by children and the path can only be cleared by throwing money for them to scrabble for.
11 am saw us at the Medias town hall for the official wedding, and 12:30 at the Medias Romanian Orthodox Cathedral for the blessing. I was one of the candle bearers ( prestigious appointment) but I was somewhat discomfited by the fact that my candle broke and drooped. No one seemed too bothered.
So by 2pm we were on parade at the BinderBubi again, and waiting for the guests. You may say surely they would all be with us - but no. The wedding party itself is largely immediate family and friends, in this case about 20 people, with a further 200 odd for the lunch. Champagne was drunk and glasses smashed to drive away the evil spirits.
I say lunch, but most of the people didn't appear until 4 and the eating and drinking went on until past midnight. There were Romanian songs and dances, and some of the best dancers could only be described as hugely overweight, yet twirled and whirled like dervishes.
The menu was the same as it always is, with the obligatory chicken noodle soup, but in this case two extra courses - Poire Belle Helene and an extra meat and potato course at midnight.
Fortunately, the Mayor and his wife were sitting quite far from me as I was on the top table, and the parents of both sides sit in the main guest area, so I was able to avoid most of the alcohol.
The thing I enjoyed the most was that there were so many people there I knew - many more than I would have known at a wedding in Glasgow - from senators and deputies, various mayors and chiefs of police, but also the town hall cleaner and local farmer.In the strangest way it was totally egalitarian, yet each level having respect for each other and entirely as it should be.
The bride was stolen and I ransomed her for 2 bottles of whisky and a crate of beer - cheap in the circumstances - and then the envelopes with the cash started coming.
I have no idea how much was gathered in, but at a guess well over £25,000. There were a lot of very well connected people there.
The next morning Alin and I managed to do some business before the after lunch lunch started at 1pm in Mosna village hall. I had to leave by 4 pm to drive back to Cluj to catch the early flight to Luton, and again hardly slept as I had to be up around 3 am. It was a wonderful couple of days and I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
I drove from Luton to Salisbury, and checked in to the White Hart hotel. They took the money off my credit card. There were 17 delegates and they did the same for everyone.
Except the Trust had already paid for the rooms and where horrified when I told them about it later.
The Trust did us proud with excellent food and drink ( elderflower cordial in my case) for the next two days. Despite getting into bed by 11 pm each night, we all had homework and position papers to read for questions the next day, hence the lack of sleep.
Two particular things struck me.
Firstly, DFID has been partnering the GWT in a water project in Nepal on a £ for £ basis, to the tune of £1.4million each annually. DFID announced they were pulling out of it last month, for the year starting 1st April. The Trust, because they are slightly more honourable than the Government, have decided to shoulder the whole cost, as it is a good for the whole community. The second was the method whereby the MOD always paid all the costs of GWT operations ( as opposed to charity) in Nepal, and this is written in a legal document governing the recruitment and medical requirements of Gurkhas throughout their lives. At the same time as scrapping the water project, they cut their contribution to these operations by 25%. Really honourable people,the MOD. Naturally, the GWT has taken on these extra expenses.
At the conference,Nepalese curries were consumed with great gusto, and much good work was done. One of the most interesting lectures was a series of slides showing Nepal ten years ago and now - the most obvious changes were the gigantic mud and mountain landslides that change the geography and destroy man's puny efforts.
I left about 2pm on Wednesday and went to visit my old Maths teacher who lives just outside Salisbury. We spent a happy hour chatting ( I wish I could say we swopped mental arithmetic problems and giggled furiously at them) and then I set off for the long slog back.
And of course I couldn't sleep when I got to bed just before 1am...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

See Glasgow?

You need to learn fast if you want to live in Glasgow...

The Glasgow Rangers foreign scout flies to Baghdad to watch a young Iraqi play football and is suitably impressed and arranges for him to come over to Scotland . He's signed to a one-year contract and the kid joins the team for the pre-season. Two weeks later Rangers are down 2-0 to Celtic a Pakhead with only 10 minutes left.
The coach gives the young Iraqi the nod and he goes in.. The kid is a sensation - scores 3 goals in 10 minutes and wins the game for Rangers!
The fans are thrilled, the players and coaches are delighted, and the media are in love with the new star. When the player comes off the pitch he phones his mum to tell her about his first day of Scottish Premier League football.
'Hello mum, guess what?' he says. 'I played for 10 minutes today, we were 2-0 down, but I scored 3 goals and we won.
Everybody loves me, the fans, the media..."
"Wonderful,' says his mum, 'Let me tell you about my day. Your father got shot in the street and robbed, your sister and I were ambushed, raped and beaten, and your brother has joined a gang of looters, and all while you were having such great time.' The young Iraqi is very upset. 'What can I say mum, I'm so sorry.' 'Sorry? You're sorry?' says his mum, 'It's your fault we moved to Glasgow in the first place!'
Moral of the story: don't beat Celtic at home if you can avoid it.
That's this weekend, by the way.

One Tit or Two?

In today's Telegraph, Graham Norton, acting as agony uncle, is posed the following question:
"My wife – an attractive woman – has always been obsessed with her lack of volume in the bosom department. She is determined to have surgery in order to increase her breast size from an A to a D. The problem is we're rather short of cash – we're currently putting two children through private school – and at £2,500 a breast we can't really afford it.
You'd think that would be the end of the matter, but my wife is determined to push ahead one breast at a time. She says she's ''too desperate to wait'' and has her heart set on getting one breast done this year and the second one in 2010.
Needless to say, the surgeon has advised against it, but when my wife gets a bee in her bonnet she's a very tenacious woman.
Quite apart from the cost, I am very perturbed at the prospect of sharing my life for 12 months (possibly longer) with a woman who is built like a Page Three girl on one side and a pancake on the other. What is a man to do? "
The mind completely boggles.
However, it would enable the husband to answer one of those Questions of the Universe. Is there a different feel to an implanted breast? I accept the size might make a difference here, but the feel ought to be testable.
I offered my services but strangely my comment has been moderated out....

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Happiest Hobbit.

Richard Spencer, over on has a piece about "Culture 11" which has just folded. It sounds quite an interesting ex-site, and highlights that the costs of doing something like this are serious.
But there is a lovely part where he decries the "Culture" of the people running the site. One of them, being given an article about a dildo, replied he didn't think his readership was in to The Lord of the Rings.
He apparently thought Dildo was a Hobbit.....

General dampness...

Curtesy of The Herald Diary, what is the definition of liquidity?
When you look at the value of your investments, and wet yourself.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Levelling out?

I get a feeling - just a feeling - that the markets are beginning to get to some sort of stability.
Probably wrong.
A friend tells me he thinks the same. The markets have discounted how awful 2009 is going to be, but interest rates here will soon be in the lovely Winchester Whisperer's ZIRP zone.
So looking forward, FTSE in the 4000 region is a strong BUY.
Don't think the crunch is having much of an effect on Romania.When we started we were paying about Eur 500-600 per hectare - that was about 20 months ago. Admittedly for a very good bit of land, we've just paid the equivalent of Eur 2000 per Ha. And sheep prices are up....

Central Hotel RIP.

You know you are getting older when an icon of your youth crumbles.
So it is with sadness that I see what used to be the Central Hotel in Glasgow has shut.
This is in a way quite strange, as presumably it can earn money from selling rooms on a nightly basis - but I expect the downturn means no one will stay there anymore - £29 is more than enough in the TravelLodge up the road.
In my youth, the three hotels in Glasgow that counted were the NB ( North British) at Queen Street , the St. Enoch's Hotel at ( you guessed it) St. Enoch's and the Central at Central Station. The living thread that bound them was ownership by British Rail Hotels, along with Turnberry and Gleneagles ( and assorted others).
Some of our best hoteliers now were trained by BRH, and in their day they were the best anywhere.
The Central had many famous people at it, especially Roy Rogers, with Trigger up the road at the Bell Street Police Stables. The story is that Rogers ( and Trigger) were terrified by the size of the Glasgow Police horses. That, of course, was, and is, their point.
Over the years, once broken up and sold off, the BRH group members have had varying fortunes, some going down hill, others flourishing.
But in Glasgow, in the Central, was a monument to excellent dining at a time when people in Britain had no idea about food.
This was the Pompadour. Le tout Glasgow would meet there on a Friday or Saturday night, when the business of the City would be settled. A quartet trilled away in the balcony.
My Uncle, The Big Fruit Man, would take me there as a teenager, and later when I came to Glasgow to live, we invariably went there on the Saturday night.
To the same table, at the same time.
The menu was extensive, but my Uncle's performance never varied.
" Ronnie!" he would shout to the maitre d' as he scanned the menu.
" Do you have any Marie Rose?" Of course they did.
" Aye well, I'll have that. And have you any fillet steak?"
" Yes sir"
"Well just mince it up for me and I'll have some new boiled potatoes with it."
Sometimes he even had peas with it.

Known unknowns

Guido has a post about the Glenrothes bye-election last year.
It would appear that possibly - just possibly - there was a bit of naughtiness with the postal votes - especially as there were about four times as many as normal which accounted for the higher than expected turnout. Mike Smithson at Political Betting goes so far as to say the loss of the marked register of electors is " fishy". I think we can assume it is "distinctly fishy" as Labour in Scotland and elsewhere has form on this before - notably Sarwar and Glasgow Govan and here in Birmingham.
He wouldn't would he? Of course he would.That's why he dared to go there to campaign because he knew what was going on....
Even the Guardian thinks it's a bit iffy.

Political ignorance

The Croydonian has a piece on the upside-down flying of the Union Jack.
Brown and his minions love their country so much they don't even know which is the right way up.
Upside-down is a distress signal.
Says it all, really.

Monday, February 02, 2009

How to win friends and influence people..

I spent a delightful weekend up north at Drumnadrochit by Loch Ness. I was there because I was collecting a cheque for the Gurkha Welfare Trust from Nairn Royal British Legion.
Friends invited us for the night before, which culminated in my breaking my " I only drink abroad" rule, because our host, a larger than life character in every sense of the words, produced an exceptional dessert wine at perfect temperature and really choccie profiteroles.
What can a chap do? His wife and I drank most of it as the other side of the table was busy lashing into the rather good red ( I'm told) and we got through the pudding wine before they had much chance to object.
Sunday dawned as only Scotland can in the winter - fantastic light, sun low and glinting off the loch. The frost lay all around and the sheep surrounded us when we went for a walk and watched the dog, who kept his distance.
I collected the cheque and was told the following tale.
The RBL at Nairn was built in the late 20's on land given by the "big hoose" and built by ex-servicemen with donations and their bare hands. It now has two of it's facades listed, one A grade the other B grade.
A few years ago, as with many of these things, the older members were dying off, and no new ones were coming on. There was great discussion about continuing, and one or two members thought it should close - one being particularly vociferous.
Quite by chance, a member who had lived in Nairn all his life, apart from his Naval service and his oil-rig work, but was a virtual non-attender, happened to be in Inverness one day and spotted the vociferous member going into Inverness Council offices. Intrigued, he followed at a distance and saw him going into the planning department.
After the vociferous one left, he sauntered in and said " Oh, Mr. So-and-so was just in here - he asked me to pop back and pick up a copy of the plans"
Which were produced.
And which turned out to be of the RBL,Nairn.
So our Naval Friend attended the next general meeting and brought the matter up, and suddenly found himself voted in as Secretary.
Being a mere stripling of 62, he quickly got to work rounding up lapsed members, and approached the huge airbase at Kinloss. Retiring troops were contacted on their return to the area, and events were welcomed into the building, such as dances, bingo nights, weddings and the like.
The overall result is that three years later RBL Nairn is a vibrant thrusting community which goes its own way to secure its future.
Of course, the members are fiercely loyal to themselves, their country and those still serving.
If only others were as strong in their loyalty.
I forgot to mention that Mrs. Lear insisted on a stop on the way down at House of Bruar

Mandelson's little difficulty.

John Redwood has a particularly good article today on the present strikes. In essence, he says this government has fudged all EU directives, telling us that either it won't have an effect or making a stand and then winning an immaterial concession. This is then hailed as a victory.
As he says :
"When people fear a law or think it is stopping them working they want their elected politicians to take that seriously and to be able to amend it. When the law comes from Brussels, the government is no position to do that. The government has honestly to tell the strikers that there is no point in them striking, because even if the government wanted to change the law in the way they would like, it cannot do so without the agreement of most other EU countries, which looks extremely unlikely on this issue."
Mandelson has been all over the TV and radio saying that the Company statement says it's all OK, but what has actually happened is that the UK contractors that tendered had workers wanting, for example, £20 per hour. The Italians will do it for eg £15. Its no use trotting out the line that there is a minimum wage and it has to be adhered to, as we are well north of that figure.
What is happening is that the Government's spin and general line about" it's fine, trust us" has finally been rumbled.
Never mind Labour's inability to do the housekeeping, they always end up with a winter of discontent. This is because , despite the rhetoric about " difficult decisions" they never take any, twisting in the wind to curry favour.
As my children will testify, I frequently say, it's no use being nice to people. The point is to tell them the truth and shame the devil. Alternatively, if you are nice to them, do it in expectation of no thanks or reciprocation.

No one may like it, but at least they know where they stand.

The Upper House

Peter Hitchens mentions that he thinks that the reform of the House of Lords should consist of putting back all the heriditary peers, who he characterises as harmless old coves , British through and through.
This is true.
Arguably, the problems started when Lloyd George threatened to create enough peers to get through any legislation he wanted, and the race was on to get a peerage.
It does raise the point as to what all the newly created peers would do. In a sense, they are mere cannon-fodder at the moment. Arguably, the remaining hereditary peers are the hardest working and, although of a Tory bent in general, tend to be less partisan and more thoughtful about what they are doing.
Certainly over the last decade, the Lords has been taken for granted by the Commoners - and the Lords, quite rightly, have voted against lots of Government measures as they have pointed out the inadequacy of the proposals.
So perhaps for a start the patronage of giving a peerage should be entirely taken away from the politiciams and left solely to the Lords themselves.Perhaps there should be an upper age limit ( maybe 75) and only crossbench peers be allowed to vote on government measures. Certainly there should be a mechanism for throwing out those who transgress. Definitely there should be an upper number, perhaps a maximum of 300. They could be designated VP - voting peer. Any other peer could put their views in the debates, but rather like the Law Lords, only certain ones should be allowed to vote.
It should be remembered, however, what the Upper House's purpose is. It's to provide a check and balance to the power of the Commons.
Without it, we would be living in a tyranny.